If your tastes include R&B, Soul, and Blues, you'll find two excellent
programs Friday nights on WRUR. 6 to 9 EST is Rejuvenation, 9 to 12 is
Blacks and Blues. Both hosts are experts in their fields, disciplined
presenters, and fine programmers, able to structure interesting sets with
subtle threads of inner logic. Doug Curry, the rich-voiced blues host, also
brings a lyrical, poetic, and wry attitude to his commentary, which I
admire. These shows are local institutions. I think both have been on in one
form or another for 30 years. They are the jewels in our radio crown. Here
and there are other standouts.
For a small city, Rochester has been lucky in many cultural ways, radio
included. We have a full-time jazz station. My alma mater, WXXI-FM, still
does a pretty good job with a full-time non-diluted classical format. It was
best in the early 80s, before I got there, occasionally brilliant thanks to
me (ahem!), and has since carried on the tradition despite all the odds
against it. Not the least of which is its standing in the shadow of a TV
station within the same organization.
It is amazing how much high-culture there was on radio and TV back when. It
certainly did reflect the aspirations (or guilt) of Sarnoff and Paley, and a
NYC-centric POV. It set a standard that many local stations also tried to
emulate. It was also a defensive measure, justification for the public's
generosity in giving them licenses to print money. That chafed, however, so
once the political possibility came around to create a national educational
radio and TV system, the networks acceded to this opportunity to offload
that burdensome obligation. It also gave the industry a perfect,
tax-deductible dumping-ground for its old equipment. But, the public system
was intended to remain a step-child, never supposed to become competitive.
Whenever that seemed possible, there was some hell to pay. Now, it might be
the public radio system that saves radio in the US, like those Irish monks
did, once this Dark Age passes.
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Richard L. Hess
Sent: Wednesday, July 03, 2013 7:54 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Radio
On 2013-07-03 6:43 PM, Karl Miller wrote:
> One can argue as to what was the ultimate motivation for the
> Toscannini/NBC; Bernard Herrmann/CBS broadcasts, etc. Yet, classical
> music has rarely made money. So why was it broadcast with such
> frequency, even by the major networks, earlier in the days of radio?
> Why did early television offer such fine dramatic programs? Were more
> people interested in theater in those days? I think not.
Many of these decisions emanated from New York City which did have a
strong arts segment and, I recall during the 1970s, the Metropolitan
Opera ran a subscription campaign under the heading of "Strike a Blow
I think in NYC the thought was going to the opera, the art museum, the
symphony was the culturally important thing to do. Many of these
premiere houses played to full audiences most nights.
This culture was also important to Europeans and many of the residents
of NYC were of recent European descent and took this seriously.
Certainly it was a small percentage of the total population, but it
seemed to be a large percentage of the people I ran into. There were
many of us from ABC-TV who would patronize the arts. It was fantastic
working two blocks from Lincoln Center.
My local camera store owner would go to Carnegie Hall on a regular basis
and enjoyed all the Heifetz recordings and had a cousin who was an
aspiring violinist. He would tell everyone who entered his shop about
hearing this or that double concerto last night.
Louis Teicher, for example, who was involved in Columbia Records and/or
CBS Radio in music supervisory position, was also a major supporter and
board member of the Great Neck Symphony Orchestra.
I went to (and stayed) at St. Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue for their
superlative music and cut my teeth recording there. The preaching was
good, too. This gorgeous structure helped kindle my increased desire to
experience and understand gothic architecture.
All of this seemed to be a self-fulfilling loop in NYC and since all
three networks were headquartered there, it seems that was also part of
the culture that was driving the networks. How long did Texaco sponsor
the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts? 40 years?
There is a similar lively music scene in Toronto, but I am out in the
boonies of Aurora and don't participate. People who live in the city do.
I did not grow up with the CBC, but it certainly was promoting what we
in Toronto now call "Art Music" back in the 1980s when I first moved to
We have a local orchestra, The York Symphony, which does well and offers
a mid-level place for young soloists to cut their teeth. I have been
involved in that for a few years as their recording engineer. Here is
one freely available example (sorry the soundtrack is mono'd).
This woman, however, teaches in the NY/NJ area now. We've lost her.
I think prestige drove many of the decisions as presenting this type of
music was important.
As today marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the Battle of
Gettysburg, I find it interesting that 50 years ago, David Diamond was
commissioned to set the Gettysburg Address to music. It's premiere from
Buffalo was broadcast on the CBS Radio Network and I have a full-track
copy of that made off the Network line in St. Louis.
I don't see that kind of patriotic spirit in the American Networks other
than PBS with, I assume, tomorrow nights Capitol Fourth which is always
a great show. We were there last year.
As a note, the Gerard Schwarz recording (apparently made with Diamond
present) cuts nicely with the CBS Radio copy to show the difference of
what might have been vs. what was recorded. I suspect an almost-as-good
copy of the performance COULD have been made in Buffalo, but it would
never have survived the network.
It is now a different time.
Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
Aurora, Ontario, Canada 647 479 2800
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.